The Social Media Entertainment Series – Foursquare

Site: Foursquare Revenue model: Advertising, content partnership

Build a better freebie, and the world will beat a path to your Website.

The latest trend in the digital community – mobile socialization; in this case, a combination of friend-finder, city guide and competitive bar game. Welcome to Foursquare, a location-based social networking Website, with software for mobile devices. This service is available to users with GPS-enabled mobile devices, such as Smartphones.

In addition to being a higly popular Social Media application, Foursquare has developed a new advertising channel: geophysical marketing. Launched in March 2009, and developed by Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai while students at NYU (New York University). It’s roots were in an earlier texting-based mobile service, Dodgeball; Crowley’s graduate thesis in the Interactive Telecommunications Program. Started in 2004, Dodgeball was purchased, and later euthanized, by Google in 2005, and replaced with Google Latitude.

Foursquare has competitors in the field, BrightKite, Looped, Google Latitude, and Gowalla, to name a few. It started with business deals connected to local bars and restaurants offering free food and drinks to users who became the “mayor” of their venue. Mayorships are awarded to customers with the most days checked into a venue over the last 60 days, and only users who have uploaded profile photos are eligible. They are always visible on the merchants Foursquare venue page as well as on all mobile clients. This title is up for grabs for customers that visit often, but is not achievable by employees, owners, or managers.

On their busiest day, Saturday, approximately 2 million “check-in’s” (postings to the site informing where clients are and when) are logged. Users check-in at venues using a mobile website, text messaging or a device-specific application by running the application and selecting from a list of venues that the application locates nearby. Top destinations include Starbucks, McDonalds, Walmart, Target, Apple, Chipotle, Best Buy, Costco, Burger King, and Ikea.

Each check-in awards the user points and sometimes “badges”. Some cities have city-specific badges that can only be earned in a specific city. When a user gains a badge, he or she has the same badges across all cities. There are a handful of introductory badges that are earned as milestones in usage, while other badges may be specific to a city, venue, event, or date. There are a few badges that are named similarly, but applied differently, specifically Far Far Away, Trifecta and I’m on a Boat. Foursquare doesn’t maintain a badge list on their Website, but other sites have tried to keep the list updated. On October 22, 2010, astronaut Douglas H. Wheelock unlocked the NASA Explorer badge by checking into Foursquare from the International Space Station.

Foursquare 3.0 was released for Android and iPhone users on the evening of 08 March 2011. It looks as if the blending of virtual and actual realities has at last arrived.

(References: TechCrunch, AdAge, CNN Money, NY Times, Venture Beat Profiles, and Wikipedia)


About Grannelle

eMarketing Scholar
This entry was posted in Entertainment, Social Media and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to The Social Media Entertainment Series – Foursquare

  1. Billy Rivera says:

    If Foursquare had been around five years ago, I probably would have been the mayor of many fast food chains. I look forward to those consumer benefits, but until then, I’ll just add it to the pile of…


  2. Billy Rivera says:

    I’m a newbie to Foursquare, and I must admit I don’t really understand what exactly I’m getting out of it. I like checking in for the sake of Foursquare sharing my check-in with Facebook and Twitter, and the “newbie” badges are fun. I can see why people who have an adequate amount of friends would feel good about becoming “mayor” of certain places, like a restaurant or bar. My real question is when are they going to start sending out gift cards and free stuff to the “mayors” and maybe throw in a couple coupons for “newbies.” That will for sure make me love Foursquare and keep me coming back for more. Until then, I’m still a little skeptical. Add me on Foursquare. My user name is BillyRivera.


    • Grannelle says:

      Actually, Billy, some businesses offer free drinks/food to the “mayors”, albiet not all. I think the big draw is in what is called “geolocation marketing,” which is basically free ink (bandwidth) for the enterprise. It would seem only a matter of time before Foursquare monetizes these efforts (according to rumors, such are in the works as of this writing) by sharing profits w/ the business, dependent on customer attraction/retention. Very little in it for the consumer, other than the fun, but then, as stated in “You Know You’re Spending Too Much Time With Social Media When…,” some are emotional when either achieving or losing mayoral status. Go figure…


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